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His son's picture became an iconic image from 2015 for the worst reason. Now he speaks.

When his son drowned, the whole world took notice. His message is so important.

His son's picture became an iconic image from 2015 for the worst reason. Now he speaks.

You may not know him, but you've certainly heard of his son.

His name is Abdullah Kurdi, but you probably know him best as the father of Alan (originally reported as Aylan), the drowned 3-year-old refugee boy whose picture captured the attention of people around the world.

Alan, along with his mother and his older brother, drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey into Greece. Their goal, like so many other refugee families, was to escape war-torn Syria and find safety in Europe.


Photo by Yaskin Akgul/AFP/Getty Images.

Alan's father Abdullah doesn't want other families to go through what his did. He needs our help to make that happen.

We, as human beings and citizens of the world, need to empathize with the struggle facing the refugees fleeing Syria. Are they really any less worthy of safety and dignity than the rest of us?

That's what Abdullah asks in a video that aired recently on Channel 4 in the U.K.

GIFs via Channel 4 News.

There's no better time than the holidays to take a moment to think about love, family, and peace.

Abdullah, who has lost all of those close to him in his life, isn't asking for money or for goods. He's asking for humanity, love, and kindness. He's asking us to be grateful for what we have in life and to open our hearts to refugees.

The sad fact remains that the U.S. remains leery about accepting any Syrian refugees. 54% of Americans oppose taking in any refugees from Syria. Why? Because despite the fact that refugees are fleeing terrorists, there's worry that the refugees could be terrorists. Since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks — in which none of the perpetrators were Syrian refugees — this has become an especially hot topic of discussion.

His goal is simple: peace on earth. Getting there? A bit more of a challenge.

And maybe it starts with a tiny step. Maybe the path to world peace starts with acknowledging that we need to treat each other as people first rather than coming into situations with preconceived notions about who someone is on the basis of their religion or nationality.

Stereotypes hurt us all. Holding on to stereotypes prevents peace.

Watch Abdullah Kurdi's emotional holiday message below:

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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